Caldwell Co DSS response to State Review of Zahra Baker case - | WBTV Charlotte

Caldwell Co DSS response to State Review of Zahra Baker case

Below is the Caldwell County DSS Response to the State Review:

CALDWELL COUNTY DSS RESPONSE TO 2012 STATE REVIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE DEATH OF ZAHRA BAKER

After the death of Zahra Clare Baker in October 2010, the Caldwell County Department of Social Services (DSS) began an internal review of processes and procedures to identify any practice areas which needed to be strengthened.

In addition, Caldwell County DSS participated in a State Intensive Child Fatality Review on

August 21 – 24, 2012. The State Child Fatality Review Team was composed of the Catawba County Child Protection Team, Catawba County Department of Social Services, Caldwell County Department of Social Services, Caldwell County Schools, North Carolina Division of Social Services staff, law enforcement, and other community agencies. Since the family had been involved with the Caldwell and Catawba County Departments of Social Services within the twelve months preceding Zahra's death, an in-depth review was conducted pursuant to North Carolina General Statute §143B-150.20.

During both the initial internal review and the state review, the State made several findings and recommendations relative to the reporting of information, the thoroughness and consistency in following procedures and also the supervisory oversight of the Zahra Baker case. In response, Caldwell County DSS identified important changes to strengthen practice and implemented those recommended changes.

Additional findings by the State Child Fatality Review Team determined that county social service departments across the state do not have immediate access to reports or case histories of families having previous interactions with other agencies across the state. The implementation of a statewide child welfare case management and documentation system would allow counties immediate access to crucial information regarding history of risk and safety and would have been a vital resource in this case.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Zahra Clare Baker were an unspeakable tragedy. Caldwell County DSS acknowledges that there were some areas of practice which were identified as needing improvement and moved quickly to implement recommendations. We feel the steps taken since our own internal review and the state review have strengthened our organization and have improved our service to our clients.

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